Renault DP World F1 Team proved they still have the fire to fight for their place as one of the Formula 1 greats. With another fifth-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship, it does not do justice to how well the team performed. The team found themselves in a tight midfield battle for third, gaining consistent points and even some podium glory.
Renault decided to go in a different direction for their 2020 line up. Nico Hülkenberg was let go by the team and without a seat in F1. He was replaced by Esteban Ocon. Ocon had previously raced in F1 for BWT Racing Point Formula One Team but was dropped and replaced by Lance Stroll in 2018. He was partnered alongside Daniel Ricciardo in his second year with the French team.
Undoubtably, the highs of the season for the team will be their multiple podiums. It took over nine years for Renault to find themselves up there with the last podium for the side coming from Nick Heidfeld at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. Ricciardo broke this record with a third-place finish at the Eifel Grand Prix. But Renault didn’t stop there, they wanted more. Ricciardo gained another third-place finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and Ocon got glory in a second-place finish at the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was so very close to claiming ‘best of the rest’ in the Drivers’ Championship but alas, he had to settle for a still impressive fifth spot. His season has been very consistent, claiming points in fourteen of the races and battling in the top half of the grid. I’m sure he was all smiles, as usual, after this year.
As a team, Renault were able to walk away with points at all but one Grand Prix, with seven of those being double point finishes. A huge improvement from the previous year and bodes well for the team going forward.
…And the Lows
Despite having an impressive season, the team could only equal their 2019 Constructors’ Championship place with a fifth place finish. Scuderia Ferrari’s poor form was replaced with a strong performance from BWT-Racing Point Formula One Team.
At one point, Renault had their hand on the third-place position but came the latter stages of the year, they couldn’t compete as much as they would have liked to, and McLaren F1 Team took home the coveted ‘best of the rest’ in third, with Racing Point also edging ahead in fourth.
Ricciardo reigned supreme in the qualifying battle. Not only did he beat Ocon in a head-to-head qualifying battle, but he qualified higher than his team-mate a whopping fifteen times. The only two times Ocon could best Ricciardo was the Styrian and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Australian driver also made it to Q3 fourteen times compared to Ocon’s eight.
Ricciardo came so close to starting in third place at the Belgian Grand Prix but has to settle for fourth. Ocon’s best starting position was sixth.
Again, Ricciardo proved to be the strongest at Renault but this time on race pace. Ricciardo finished higher than Ocon on thirteen occasions. The glory of podiums was shared out between the duo though. Ricciardo gained two third place finishes but Ocon was the man to go one better with a second place, Renaults highest finishing spot since 2010. Neither could quite make it to the top step, making it now twelve years without a Renault win.
Ricciardo was also able to nab two fastest lap points for the team for his blistering times at the Belgian and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
|Round||Ricciardo Qualifying||Ricciardo Race||Ocon Qualifying||Ocon Race|
What to expect in 2021
Ricciardo decided to jump ship in favour of McLaren for the 2021 season, leaving a seat to fill. Renault decided that they would choose Formula 1 great Fernando Alonso to drive for the side for the next two years. The team did come under some scrutiny for not giving one of their academy members a drive.
Renault has now been rebranded and will be called Alpine F1 Team from the 2021 season. The team will still remain at Enstone and use a Renault engine, but the chassis will be coming away from the black and yellow colour scheme.
Cyril Abiteboul has announced he will be leaving Renault all together. So far, no new team principal has been announced but Alpine have chosen ex-Suzuki MotoGP chief Davide Brivio as their new Racing Director.
McLaren have parted ways from using the Renault engine, choosing to use Mercedes’s for the foreseeable future. That leaves Alpine as the only Constructor now using the Renault engine. Will that mean they improve it for their own benefit? Only time can tell.